The pedagogy of The Dove and Rose (St. Joan and St. Thérèse) devotion is astonishing and edifying. The teaching of the Holy Spirit through the intercession, friendship, and kinship of St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux can be best described as a super-humanizing experience that establishes the Kingdom of God in our souls on earth and then raises us in Faith and Hope toward that same Kingdom of Love in Heaven.
It is an experience that is both the serene actualizing of the human person in the Form, or End Principle, for which that person was created in the mind of God, as well as a movement from the knowable toward an unspeakably beautiful “unknowing” (as a famous but anonymous mystic from centuries ago penned it). It is an outpouring of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to bring us into intimate union with Jesus Christ her Son through a family community, the communion of Saints. It is a devotion by which we run joyfully into what St. Louis de Montfort calls the new and mystical Garden of Paradise in Mary’s heart where Jesus Christ is glorified as Lord and King. It is an experience that brings us into contact with the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth and the promise of its fulfillment in Heaven. It is, in sum, Heaven on earth; the Eternal brushing up to the temporal in an embrace of Love. This is the devotion called The Dove and Rose, “to Jesus through Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse.”
Thus, since God the Father wishes to raise us up through His Son in the Holy Spirit by embracing and dignifying our humanity in Jesus and through the communion of Saints, that is, to work His grace through His creation which He has called “very good,” we must, if we are to be brought into this fellowship, ourselves embrace the actions of the Holy Spirit with our entire mind and heart, that is, with our intellect and will. We must, in other words, return the embrace of the Holy Spirit with the actions and movements of our entire body and soul.
Heeding the counsel of Thérèse’s (and our) Carmelite spiritual father St. John of the Cross, we must not purposely seek this embrace with God through extraordinary revelations or visions (though we welcome whatever means He so chooses), but we must seek to embrace Him through the everyday, ordinary acts of our lives, that is, through family and community life, work, prayer, and study. We must become open-minded and adventurous in the good care of our saintly sisters Joan and Thérèse as they lead us to the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, while always being cautious to walk in the safety of the narrow but sure Trail of the Dogmatic Creed, which has witnessed the successful journeys of countless saints before us. We must journey in the motherly care of the body and bride of Christ, the Church, which has Mary as her own mother and Christ as her head. We must never seek to find our own way through the dangerous Dark Forest outside of holy mother Church’s care.
We should know instinctively from this that we cannot accept even the most trivial compromise with the spirit of the world, which abides in that Dark Forest. Our journey to the Kingdom with Joan and Thérèse in the maternal care of Mary cannot be found, helped, enlightened, nor improved in the least through the spirit of the world. On the contrary, we must purify the spiritual air about us by rejecting and fleeing from all the poisonous smoke that the spirit of the world blows our way.
Therefore, we must also sense the need for a life that includes significant quiet time and peaceful contemplation, no matter what our state in the world. Our spirits are bold and unyielding in actively working for the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth; yet, we are not to ignore that our true nature through Christ’s redemption is to be with God. We seek Thérèse’s cloistered Carmelite spirit in paradoxical union with Joan’s active spirit in the world (though never of the world). Alternatively, we seek to know the warrior side of Thérèse’s spirit alongside the quiet, prayerful mysticism of Joan’s. The combination of these two spiritual reflections of God’s light makes for us who see it “the most beautiful color in the heavens.” It is to imbue ourselves in this color which shines softly, though powerfully, in the garden of Mary’s heart that we seek.
So, with this in mind, there are some pedagogical actions of the Holy Spirit in this devotion, which pour forth through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of which we must make ourselves aware and by which we must avail our intellects and wills that we might make the most of our journey with our saintly sisters, Joan and Thérèse:
- We are drawn into Faith through our intellect which, as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is drawn to Truth (God). We are drawn into Hope through our wills in the form of desire which, as the same saint tells us, is drawn to Happiness (God). We seek God to know (intellect) and love (will) Him.
- With prayer, Faith is helped by daily spiritual reading and study such that we come to know God as He has revealed Himself. With prayer, Hope is helped by a persistent simplifying and quieting of our lives such that we grow to desire God as opposed to the things of this world. Prayer is more than simply our communication with heaven. It is the foundation of our relationship with heaven.
- Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary will synthesize the particulars of knowledge and desire we offer Him to form them into a higher state of understanding and a way of living through our desires which is more pleasing to Him. In other words, God will take our efforts and mold them into His plan for our lives. We will begin to become who we are, and we will know that this is so.
- The more we pray, the more we are drawn into seeking quietude in the midst of our active lives as we seek knowledge of and desire for God. We increasingly sense a mountain top monastic presence in our souls in conjunction with the armies waiting for us in the valleys to fight the day to day battles for the Church Militant. This is Thérèse’s Mount Carmel living harmoniously in us alongside Joan’s mystical militancy. We are cloistered with Thérèse and Joan in prayerful solitude on Mount Carmel; we are busy advancing the Kingdom with Joan and Thérèse in our active lives. We are both in solitude and active. Thus is the mystery of our devotion.
- Our source of life, the fount of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the real and substantial body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist given to us in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Partaking regularly of the sacraments, notably confession and the Eucharist, along with frequent Eucharistic adoration, meditation on the scriptures, and spiritual readings from the saints are the channels whereby Jesus Christ most effectively teaches us through the Holy Spirit. We must confess our sins, partake of the Eucharist (eat His flesh), and worship Him in the Eucharist if we are to reach the Kingdom of heaven.
- We grow increasingly and lovingly in union of heart, soul, and mind with our sisters in Christ, St. Joan and St. Thérèse, and through this we sense ourselves being united with Christ in the very depths of Mary’s Immaculate heart. We further sense that this is our grace filled manifestation of True Devotion to Mary, prescribed to us by St. Louis de Montfort.
- Our prayers begin to fill with loving lamentations for the salvation of souls and the reign of the Kingdom of God on earth “as it is in heaven.” Our awareness of our own sinfulness and nothingness grows more acute. We abhor our sins and the notion of trusting in ourselves. We despise the spirit of the world. We love all, including our enemies. We trust completely in the promises of God.
- We seek only Jesus Christ and His Divine Mercy, to be burned up in the flames of love in His Sacred Heart. Through Him and in the Holy Spirit, we begin to cry, “Abba, Father.”
- God is all in all.
These are just a few shadows of the realities hidden behind our devotion to The Dove and Rose, St. Joan and St. Thérèse. This is the framework of the Freedom Dance on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed and the March of Hope. It becomes our Testament for Love as we joyfully walk, play, and dance with St. Joan and St. Thérèse toward the Kingdom. At all times, we pray for the grace of final perseverance, knowing that through our weakened will we are capable of the highest treason against this Kingdom. Let us always fear God for love of the Kingdom and fear our own wretchedness.
“To Jesus through Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse!” “Together they are the most beautiful color in the heavens!”
Amen, so be it.